A Stretchy Bind Off

Turtleneck Stretchy Bind Off

I finished knitting my husband’s sweater last night.  The pattern is a bottom-up pullover with a lovely loose turtleneck.  It is that loose, deep turtleneck that appealed to him.  He wanted a sweater that would shield him from the cold yet not fit too tightly. As you can see, this design fits the bill.

Knowing that the fit was designed to be loose, I considered different bind off techniques before I started to bind off the neck stitches.  I was concerned that the traditional bind off I use on most projects might not allow enough stretch for this neckline.  The turtleneck is knitted 22 cm (approximately 8 ¼”) deep, and the neckline between the body and the turtleneck is a fairly generous 18” (between 125 and 133 sts in worsted weight yarn).  Because I knit tightly, I was concerned the edges could end up cupping under if I used a traditional bind off method.

Cast On Bind Off Book

In search of an elastic bind off, I pulled out Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor.   It is one of my best reference books for binding off and casting onThe instructions and the pictures, which are photographs, are clear and concise.  I have used it countless times to find just the right cast on or bind off for different projects.  A quick search of this reference helped me narrow down my choices to a stretchy bind off.  Usually, stretchy bind offs are used for the tops of socks, lace edges, and hat brims.  There are different bind off methods that range from a little bit stretchy or quite stretchy. I have used the Yarnover Bind Off when finishing shawls because I prefer a flexible edge when I block.  That bind off has five easy-to-remember steps once you get into the groove.  Another good bind off for shawls is the Icelandic Bind Off.  Once again, this bind off produces a neat, flexible edge with a lot of stretch.

For this project, however, I chose the Elastic Bind Off.  It creates an elastic edge that is particularly suited to the tops of socks, necks, and cuffs.  The five steps process is easy to remember and works up quickly:

  1. Work the first two stitches.
  2. Slip the two stitches from the right needle back onto the left needle purl wise.
  3. Work the stitches together through the back loops.
  4. Work the next stitch.

Repeat steps 2- 4 until you reach the last two stitches.  Knit them together through the back loop.  (Leslie Ann Bestor, Cast On, Bind Off, p. 171).

If you are like me, you will probably appreciate having a visual for this process.  Below is a tutorial by Chilly Dog that demonstrates this bind off.  If you have been knitting a long time or are just getting started, it is always fun to have options and expand your knowledge.  I would recommend that the next time you are ready to bind off, explore your options.  You just might find something new.